Cabbage rolls deconstructed

Despite the Always Hungry? diet now being a memory of things past this one recipe (and the blue cheese dressing) has stayed around the kitchen. Somehow with the rather chilly, grey days that seem to be endless, this seemed appropriate now, so I thought I’d share the recipe. Sometimes good things come from strange places. I never have thought I’d be keeping recipes from a diet book!

The recipe calls for using a food processor, and for blanching the cabbage. Since I cook for one, I really consider using a food processor a lot more work than simply getting out my knife, even if the recipe calls for “finely diced”. It’s so simple to clean a knife and a cutting board.

Here is the recipe (adapted from pp.236-237) from Always Hungry?

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 (or more) cloves of garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground beef (the recipe calls for lean, but not in this cook’s kitchen)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3-1/2 cups diced tomatoes (about two 14.5 ounce cans
  • 2-4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 5-6 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 small head)

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a food processor (if you’re using it, otherwise chop and use an immersion blender, or finely dice) the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Stir the beef into the beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (personally, I like more), into the onion mixture.
  4. Combine the tomatoes, vinegar, apple, cinnamon, remaining salt and pepper. If you have an immersion blender, use it here to complete the sauce–otherwise you can go rustic and have chunky sauce; it still tastes good.
  5. Blanch the cabbage for about 30 seconds and drain. (Not this lazy cook; it goes in the microwave briefly).
  6. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with 1 cup of the tomato mixture. Layer with half the cabbage, then half the beef mixture; alternate tomato mixture, cabbage, and beef mixture, ending with beef and then tomato mixture.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes; remove the foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes (or a bit longer if it’s still too juicy).

This is another of my cabbage “things” that gets better the day after, or even after that. It freezes well, so I don’t try to alter the recipe to cut it from 4 servings to one or two.

A son gôut!

—Ô¿Ô—

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Cabbage and pork

Ready for the oven

I guess it’s the cold weather, but seem to be craving simple, warm meat and vegetable dishes. Not very long ago I was making fårikål–lamb and cabbage stew because I found lovely shoulder chops in the meat case.

This week on my stroll around the meat case looking for bargains I found a lovely package of pork butt steaks–perfect for making another of my favorite winter dishes: braised pork and cabbage with an unusual twist to the seasoning, thanks to Jacques Pepin (and his wife).

A whole pork butt is just not in the picture when you are cooking for one! Even when you freeze part of what you make–and this does freeze well, and I do want some in the freezer for quick meals, I still really prefer making most things in quantities NOT for eight people. This recipe is one that is SO easy to adapt for cooking for one. Chops or steaks are a good alternative to a whole pork butt.

I almost made this recipe just as it was posted in the original–except I browned only one side of the pork since it was going to finish in the oven. My other modification, was to add just a touch of coriander seed to the spice mixture. For chops or steaks like this, about 30 to 45 minutes with the rub is enough.

This is a great mix of a little spicy, a little sweet, a little sour–not what you usually expect when you hear pork and cabbage!

Not photogenic, but very tasty


In cold weather–or even just chilly, grey, rainy weather–I love making braises in the oven. I’m heating the house, so the added heat is fine. The aromas of a good oven-braised dish warm the soul too.

A son gôut!

—Ô¿Ô—

Braised pork and cabbage (Caribbean seasoning)

I’m of the opinion that cabbage is a much under-appreciated vegetable!  It’s good for so many things besides the traditional “coleslaw”.  One of my favorite things is to use it in braises.  Here is one of my favorites:  Braised pork and cabbage.  Again, it’s versatile, freezer-friendly, and the quantities are flexible.

Heads of savoy cabbage

Savoy cabbage

A particular favorite is from Jacques Pepin’s Cuisine Economique.  I’ll give you the basic recipe here ingredients as given in that recipe and summary of the preparation.  If you’re interested in ways to take economical cuts of meat and make them into something really good, this is a book worth looking at (See Bibliography).  The recipe is here not to give you quantities, but to suggest seasoning.  While this recipe suggests a larger cut of pork, I usually get the boneless country ribs to use for this–they are really more like pork butt than are loin chops.

Braised Pork and Cabbage (p. 247)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • a 4-pound pork roast (loin tip, shoulder, or pork butt)
  • 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium-size heads Savoy cabbage (about 2-1/2 pounds), leaves cut into 2-inch pieces and core cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large onions (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

packaged pork boston butt

boston butt shoulder roast

Preparation

  • Mix the salt, oregano, cumin, allspice, cayenne, and rub the mixture all over the meat.  (See Notes.)
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.  When hot, brown the meat over medium-to-high heat for about 30 minutes (See Notes) until well browned on all sides.
  • Cover tightly and place in a preheated 325 ° F oven and cook for 45 minutes to a hour.
  • Remove the meat and transfer to a platter.
  • Combine the cabbage, onions, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in the pot.
  • Put the meat on top of the cabbage, cover, and return to the oven for about 2 hours until the roast has released juice and is fork tender.
  • Slice the meat and serve with the cabbage and juices from the pot.

Notes:

  • The cooking times will vary to some degree with the type of meat you use–shoulder, butt and ribs have enough fat and connective tissues to need long slow cooking. A supermarket loin roast, which I would not use, can easily become dry with long cooking unless brined.   I do not usually make this with a roast, but with big, meaty,  country-style spare-ribs, with about  1 to 1-1/2 pounds.  Even using about a quarter of the meat, your cooking time will still be longer than a quarter of these times–you just need to check the doneness)

    country ribs

    butt country ribs

  • You’ll probably want to use the quantities given for the rub ingredients–and I like to put these on the meat for at least several hours (if not a day before) browning it.  There is a lot of surface area to cover with the ribs.
  • This is also a freezer-friendly dish–I love to have a single-serving sized portion to pull out when I need comfort food on a cold day or I’m just in a hurry for food.
  • I like to serve steamed potatoes with it–or add one of those single servings to a  single-serving amount of rice as it cooks (in the rice cooker) for a complete meal.
  • A Riesling or Gewürztraminer wine is excellent with this dish.